Moeletsi Mbeki, brother of former South African President Thabo Mbeki, told United States embassy officials that Joyce and Solomon Mujuru were not “Shona tribalists” like President Robert Mugabe or Emmerson Mnangagwa.
He said the election of Joyce Mujuru as vice-President could even encourage Mugabe to retire as the Mujurus had been loyal to him from the beginning and he trusted them completely.
Mbeki, who worked as a journalist in Zimbabwe for eight years, said the international community should view Zimbabwe as a long term project and focus on building processes to produce results in 10 to 15 years instead of chasing Mugabe’s retirement.
He said civil society in Zimbabwe was very weak and urged increased support for building a more robust civil society sector.
He said the same applied to the Movement for Democratic Change. The party had emerged so fast as a political force that it never engaged in the difficult and time-consuming work of organising for a long term struggle.
Viewing cable 04PRETORIA5369, MOELETSI MBEKI CALLS ZIMBABWE A “LONG-TERM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 PRETORIA 005369
FOR AF/S B. NEULING AND T. CRAIG
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/14/2014
SUBJECT: MOELETSI MBEKI CALLS ZIMBABWE A “LONG-TERM
PROJECT”; URGES SUPPORT FOR MDC
REF: JOHANNESBURG 527
Classified By: Amb. Jendayi E. Frazer
Reasons 1.4(b) and (d)
¶1. (C) Summary. Moeletsi Mbeki, South African political
commentator and brother of President Thabo Mbeki, urged the
international community to stop “chasing” Mugabe’s retirement
and view Zimbabwe as a “long-term project.” He called for
increased international support for the MDC and Zimbabwean
civil society. In his view, the MDC represents a new type of
political party in Africa — non-racial, non-ethnic — and
thus is a threat to the old style African political parties
and also a valuable asset in rebuilding sub-Saharan Africa.
Mbeki suggested that the recent election of Joyce Mujuru as
Vice President is a positive sign that could lead to
Mugabe,s retirement in the future since Mugabe trusts her
and her husband. Mugabe made a big mistake by deporting
COSATU, Mbeki argued, because its two million members are now
energized, although he did not believe this would alter South
African policy in the short-term. End Summary.
¶2. (C) On December 7, 2004, U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe,
Christopher Dell, and PolOff met with Moeletsi Mbeki, brother
of President Thabo Mbeki and Executive Chairman of Endemol
South Africa, a television production company. Mbeki is also
Deputy Chairperson of the South African Institute for
International Affairs, a well-respected foreign policy think
tank. A prominent political commentator in his own right,
Mbeki has been publicly and sharply critical of the
Government of Zimbabwe in recent years. Mbeki worked as a
journalist in Zimbabwe from 1982-1990. (Comment: Mbeki is
reportedly not particularly close to his brother the
Observations on Zimbabwe Crisis
¶3. (C) Discussing the political crisis in Zimbabwe, Mbeki
suggested that the international community needs to view the
country as a “long-term project.” He urged focus on building
processes now to produce results in 10-15 years, not
“chasing” Mugabe,s retirement.
¶4. (C) Mbeki observed that civil society in Zimbabwe is quite
weak and urged increased support for building a more robust
civil society sector. He noted that the MDC emerged so fast
as a political force that it never engaged in the difficult
and time-consuming work of organizing for a long-term
struggle. Comparing Zimbabwe to South Africa, Mbeki observed
that the roots of civil society in South Africa go back to
the early 19th century, particularly the black churches.
During the anti-apartheid struggle, the entire society played
a role — the political parties, business, churches,
academics and unions. Zimbabwe does not have the same
tradition. The liberation in Zimbabwe resulted from the
military actions of two armies, ZANLA and ZIPRA, not a
broad-based movement. (Comment: This interpretation
seemingly exaggerates the significance of the military might
of the liberation movements and underestimates the role of
neighboring countries like Tanzania, Zambia, and Mozambique,
the international community, and Zimbabwean churches, in
pushing for a negotiated settlement.)
MDC Represents Future of Zimbabwe
¶5. (C) Mbeki painted a positive picture of the Zimbabwe,s
main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC). Mbeki claimed that the MDC represented the future of
Zimbabwe; ZANU-PF is a “spent force.” In his view, the
international community needs to focus on supporting the MDC.
(Comment: most South African commentators emphasize the
weaknesses of the MDC and do not/not share Mbeki,s upbeat
assessment.) What MDC needs, Mbeki said, is state patron,
just as the Soviet Union supported the ANC. Mbeki suggested
that the United Kingdom would be the most natural ally,
despite the fact that Mugabe would use this against the MDC.
Mbeki pointed out that Mugabe already labels the MDC a tool
of imperialist Britain, so would have little to lose by an
open identification with the U.K.
¶6. (C) In Mbeki,s view, the MDC represented a new type of
party in political Africa — non-ethnic, non-racial — a
“mega-achievement.” The MDC is thus a valuable asset in
rebuilding sub-Saharan Africa. It also represents a threat
to the old style, ethnic parties around the continent,
including even the ANC. In this vein, Mbeki observed that,
for political reasons, the ANC likes having an opposition
party, the Democratic Alliance, headed by a white person.
¶7. (C) Mbeki pointed out several weaknesses in the MDC.
First, they do not know how to ask for help, even from
sympathetic African governments like Nigeria, Ghana or Kenya.
Second, the MDC should make private property rights a key
part of their political platform, essentially using the land
issue against Mugabe. The MDC is afraid to do so because
they fear being labeled defenders of white farmers. Mbeki
suggested this is short-sighted since Mugabe,s land policy
also resulted in massive job losses for commercial
farmworkers, a key core constituency for the MDC. Finally,
the MDC needs to mobilize the talented and huge constituency
living in South Africa.
Recent ZANU-PF Congress
¶8. (C) Mbeki viewed the recent ZANU-PF party congress
positively. He said that the “Mujurus,” Vice President Joyce
Mujuru and her husband Solomon Mujuru, were not “Shona
tribalists” like Mugabe or Parliamentary Speaker Mnangagwa.
Mujuru,s election as Vice President might even encourage
Mugabe to step down at some point in the future. Mbeki
speculated that Mugabe would retire only if he had total
confidence that his successor would not turn on him. The
Mujurus have been loyal to Mugabe from the beginning, and he
trusts them completely.
Expulsion of COSATU Mugabe’s Big Mistake
¶9. (C) Mbeki claimed that the expulsion of COSATU from
Zimbabwe (see reftel) was Mugabe,s “biggest error.” The
SAG,s reaction to the deportation — suggesting that COSATU
“got what it deserved” — was upsetting to COSATU’s two
million members and will resonate politically in the future.
However, Mbeki thought it unlikely that the SAG would change
its Zimbabwe policy, even if pressure from COSATU grew.
Mbeki speculated that the ANC political strategists believed
(wrongly in his opinion) that they did not need active labor
support to win future elections.
¶10. (C) Mbeki also observed that most South Africans are not
interested in foreign policy. To them, Africa is a big
headache, a source of illegal immigration and crime. They
see President Mbeki,s activities in Cote d,Ivoire, DRC and
Burundi as nothing more than a “presidential hobby.”
¶11. (U) Ambassador Dell cleared on this message.